December truck tonnage finishes a strong year in 2018, reports ATA

The ATA’s advanced seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index for December, at 111.9 dropped 4.3% compared to November’s 116.9 reading, whose sequential change compared to October (which was an all-time high at 122.8) was downwardly revised to -1.3% from +0.4%.

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Despite sequential and annual changes of varying degrees, December truck tonnage finished 2018 with overall gains, according to data issued this week by the .

The ATA’s advanced seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index for December, at 111.9 dropped 4.3% compared to November’s 116.9 reading, whose sequential change compared to October (which was an all-time high at 122.8) was downwardly revised to -1.3% from +0.4%. And it was up 1.4% annually, which marked the smallest annual monthly gain in 2018, and down compared to November’s 5.8% annual gain, according to ATA data.  

For all of 2018, SA For-Hire tonnage was up 6.6% compared to 2017, which marks the highest annual gain since 1998’s 10.1% annual spread and well ahead of 2017’s 3.8% gain over 2017.

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment and the metric ATA says fleets should benchmark their levels with, was 107.8 (2015=100) in December, marking a 7.8% decline compared to November’s 117.  

“The good news is that 2018 was a banner year for truck tonnage, witnessing the largest annual increase we’ve seen in two decades,” said , in a statement. “With that said, there is evidence that the industry and economy is moderating as tonnage fell a combined total of 5.6% in October and November after hitting an all-time high in October.”

Speaking on a recent conference call hosted by investment firm  earlier in 2018, Costello said that there were a few drivers of the solid freight activity, which was intact through 2018, including consumer spending, construction activity, manufacturing activity, and inventory levels throughout the supply chain.

“[L]ooking at the over-the-road TL and LTL markets, I like to look at factory output,” he said. “2018 [shaped up] to be the highest level of production since 2007, and 2019 should be the highest on record. If we look at year-over-year growth rates, we're going to go essentially no growth in the sector from 2015 and 2016 to 2.8% growth this year and over 3% [in 2019].”


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Article Topics

ATA · Tonnage · Trucking · All Topics
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